View Full Version : Heinie sight problem..please advise

February 7, 1999, 06:24 PM
Hi all, sorry in advance for the long post. I'm new around here, but hope you can help, since my frustration level is quite high. I'm having some difficulty with my gunsmith's installation of a set of Heinie fixed sights (tritium) on my Series 80 Colt Gov't model.

Upon picking the pistol up, I was shocked to find that there was a big gap (over .014) between the bottom of the sight and the slide, both under the flat part of the sight and around the dovetail. The gunsmith insisted that he cut the slide according to Heinie's instructions and didn't know why it came out like that. Very poor looking, but I paid him anyways and took it shooting. Well, after the second magazine full of 45 ball, the sight worked itself completely loose from the dovetail and fell to the ground.

So I took the gun back to him for a fix. He still insists he did nothing wrong, but agrees to weld up just the dovetail and recut it so the sight stays put. Almost a month later, the gun is done. The sight does appear to be tight, but of course the unsightly gaps remain. But I can live with that.

The problem is, the gun now shoots approx. 3.5" low, whereas it previously shot dead on with the stock sights. I check with Heinie, who says he installs hundreds of these, with rarely any variance in point of impact over 1". So I have the gun looked at by 3 other local gunsmiths. It turns out that the gunsmith milled all the rear cuts .030" too deep (Heinie called for a .100" cut for the flats, he cut it .130" deep) All agree the sight was not installed properly.

I call him up and present him with these facts. He says there's no way he screwed up a .100" cut, and that we must have measured wrong, and to bring it in to let him have a look at it. I call him back a couple days later to make sure he's in, and now he says that the reason why he cut it to .130" was because the existing dovetail was more than .100 deep and he had to cut as low as the existing dovetail was. His solution is that he will weld up the FRONT dovetail and recut it .030" lower, but that I'll have to pay $25 for him to do it. Yes, this is some solution, but now I lose some front sight height (.190 - .030 = .160) and therefore quality of sight picture. BTW I checked with Brownell's and another gunsmith who said Colt Series 80 dovetails are cut to .100 (not .130) which is probably why Heinie chose that depth to start with.

So here's where I'm at: I haven't brought the gun in yet, but I'm really quite furious at this point. I paid him to do a clean, professional installation of the sights to the manufacturer's specifications. Am I asking too much? In the opinion of several experts the job was done wrong. It really irks me that he wants me to pay him more money (however reasonable) to fix an error that he made. What surprises me is that this gunsmith is nationally known for building good IPSC open and ltd. guns-he's an up and comer. I'm surprised that he would let his name be associated with such shoddy work...I'll be taking a Walt Marshall class in March, a Gunsite class in the summer and compete in IPSC, so many will get to see the "quality" of his work.

What do you all think I should do? Honestly, if I were a gunsmith who cared about my reputation, I would replace the slide and install the sights right. But maybe I'm just old fashioned that way. I'd really appreciate your input. Thanks,

George Stringer
February 7, 1999, 09:04 PM
Ringo, like all humans, we make mistakes from time to time. The problem he may have ran into is with the extra depth of the original dovetail there would not have been enough metal left between the bottom of the old dovetail and the top of the firing pin hole to make the proper depth cut for the Heinie dovetail. There are ways around that also but, Wilson makes a dovetail tritium front sight that stands .160" and takes the same dovetail as the Heinie . If he will swap out with you there would be no need to recut that dovetail. You won't lose the quality of your sight picture by reducing the height of the front sight. When you are aiming it will look the same as always. Had it been me installing it, once I had measured the depth of the original dovetail and found out that these problems were going to occur I would have advised you to choose a different sight or at least let you know up front what to expect. These measurements have to be made prior to installing a sight to ensure there is enough material there to cut. George

chris in mo
February 8, 1999, 01:05 AM
Ringo... I would have a hard time "living with" the gaps that remained in the slide after the first botch job. I would not have the same person work on the gun any further. My final dealings with the gunsmith would be to try and get him to cover the cost of having the sights corrected by someone competant. As George stated above you should have been contacted if there were going to be any problems or questions with the sights you chose. It sounds as if the gunsmiths customer service is in need of some repair also.

Rosco Benson
February 8, 1999, 10:29 AM
Anyone can screw up. However, I find it disturbing that this butcher would return the gun to you in a screwed-up state and (I presume) hope that you weren't discerning enough to know a bad job when you saw it. After all, you noted that this guy fancies himself a 1911-smith, not some general gunsmithing parts-replacer who got in over his head. Bottom line...this doofus owes you a slide and a refund.

You noted your surprise that this butcher would let his name be associated with such shoddy work. Well, you're doing the very thing that permits him to blow off any such concerns...you're not NAMING him. On a basic job like the one he botched (as opposed to some complex, intermittent problem...like a comp gun malfunctioning from time to time), I would give him ONE chance to make it right. If he blew his chance, then I would objectively describe the problem and lack of resolution on EVERY internet venue available. I'm talking naming NAMES here.


[This message has been edited by Rosco Benson (edited 02-08-99).]

Greg Melcer
February 8, 1999, 12:20 PM
If a mechanic screwed up your car, would you be so nice as to not criticize this mechanic by name? Would you let your friends and neighbors patronize this mechanic without warning them of the possible outcome?

This gunsmith has a responsibility to make his mistakes right. Since he has not, you have a responsibility to let other interested parties know of this gunsmith's business practices. I'm looking for a 'smith to do some work on my 1911. If I choose this 'smith because I'm not aware of your problems with him, I may have the same problems.

Please tell us who it is. If nothing else, please give me his name via private email.

[email protected]

February 8, 1999, 02:13 PM
You guys are absolutely right regarding naming him and warning others. I'm going to give him one more chance to make it right over the next day or so, and if not, I will publicly name him (maybe I'm too merciful, I just want to be fair before he gets bad press all over)...not to spite him or to get back at him, but to prevent others from enduring the same frustration and wasted money.

If someone had posted a similar experience about him, I certainly wouldn't have had him touch my pistol. I'll let you know what happens in the next couple of days.

George, thanks for the tip on the Wilson sight. However, I looked into this option and the cut is not the same. Both are 60 degree X .300" wide, but the Heinie is .060 deep while the Wilson is .075. Using the Wilson would require rewelding and recutting the dovetail.

Many sincere thanks for the input...I'm rather new at getting work done by gunsmiths and its good to have confirmation that this type of service is unacceptable.


PS Greg check your email

George Stringer
February 8, 1999, 10:47 PM
That's what I get for answering off the top of my head. See, we do make mistakes. I really hope that this guy sees his way clear to rectify the situation. Good luck with it. George